One of the biggest financial commitments you will make is having a baby and that’s why Maternity Financial Planning is essential so that you can enjoy your bundle of joy when the time comes.
So get ahead of the game, do your homework and then you can sit back (yeah right) comfy in the knowledge that your finances are sorted for the foreseeable.
Maternity Leave Payments
You are entitled to up to 52 weeks maternity leave. Dependent on how long you have been with your current employer will determine the amount that you are entitled to. To work out what your entitled to, use this Maternity Allowance Calculator. Statutory Maternity pay is currently at £140.98 per week.
Shared Parental Leave
Dependent on your circumstances you want to share the time off to care for your baby. Luckily there is such a thing as Shared Parental Leave which you may be eligible for. You can find out all the info on this through your employer or here.
Make sure that you claim everything that you may be entitled to. This is dependent on your financial circumstances, but it’s definitely worth a look. Pop over to the Gov Website for more info on everything from claiming Child Benefit to Child Tax Credits.
You are of course entitled to free prescriptions and dental treatment which is valid for twelve months following the birth of the baby. You will need to apply for this through your midwife or health visitor.
Forecast your future costs
Once you have your Maternity plan sorted and you have a rough idea of when you will return to work, sit down and work out your current incomings and outgoings. This will help you in the long run and can be adjusted if and when things change. If you’re going to have childcare costs when you return to work it’s a good idea to know how much this is going to be. It’s a huge factor in deciding what hours you will need to return to to make it worthwhile.
Try not to splurge
Easier said that done when you find out your having a baby BUT keeping your head whilst making purchases could save you a fortune. There’s loads of things that you can do to save on the spending:
I know that a lot of people aren’t up for this (I used to be one of them), but babies, especially newborn babies don’t wear their clothes for very long and usually remain in excellent condition. See what Baby Markets and Pre-loved events that are near you. I find a lot of these on Facebook so check out local events. You could also approach friends who have had babies to see if they are willing to sell you outgrown clothes which may give you peace of mind if you’re worried about where they’re coming from.
Do your research
All the magazines and websites will give you endless ideas and lists of all the ‘Must have’ baby gear which can be often misleading. Ask friends who have had babies and you will soon learn that they were led down this path only to find that they didn’t need X, Y and Z. For me it was a bottle warmer and a hand pump for milk. I haven’t known a single person to recommend a bottle warmer and the hand pump for milk was such an effort and took such a long time.
Find out when your favourite shops hold their sales and stock up on things. It’s worth stocking up on things that you know you’re going to need such as nappies and wet wipes. If you do know the gender of your baby or your baby is already here, buy the next size up in clothes or out of season clothes which will fit them when the time comes round.
Family and Friends
All family and friends want to buy something for the new baby. Most people will ask if there is anything in particular that you need. Be honest and let them know what you have left on your list to buy. If it’s something big they may contribute with vouchers, but people really do like to know if they can buy something that you want – It’s why they asked!
I went to loads of baby groups when Isabelle was a baby but the cost of these do stack up. Make sure you factor these into your monthly budget. Not all groups have to cost the earth. Look out for local parenting groups most often held in village or church halls which are often something like £1 for a stay and play session where you get a cuppa and a biscuit. Your health visitor should be able to give you some information on where to find these.
Nappies and Wet wipes
I’m going to write a more dedicated post on this subject, but have you thought of using Washable Nappies and Wet Wipes? Don’t cast this idea aside. Have a look and I guarantee you will be surprised on the options available. We went washable with Isabelle and will be washable with baby number 3. This could save you a small fortune not to mention the environmental benefits. We’re lucky in Devon that we have the Real Nappy Project where you can get advice, trial kits and demonstrations. Again, you should be able to get local information from your Midwife, Health Visitor or you may even receive this information at the hospital antenatal classes.
Loads of the big shops such as Boots and Tesco have Baby Clubs where you get additional points for baby purchases, find out about upcoming ‘baby events’ and special offers. It’s definitely worth signing up for these so that you can get the best value of money on all the every day essentials.
Baby Markets and Pre-loved Events
As well as picking up a bargain, you could also sell on your outgrown and unused items to make some pennies to put towards the next thing you have to buy. You may of course be planning to have more children so it may be that you will store everything for the next one.
I’m sure that there are so many more ways that you could save money so if you have any fab nuggets of wisdom then do pop them in the comments.
Now that Halloween and Bonfire Night are well and truly over, it’s time to think about the Big C so here is our Black Friday Round-up to get the ball rolling if you haven’t already!
Isabelle’s Christmas list is so long she may have to write it on a toilet roll. She wants practically everything on the ‘Most Wanted List’ so that will be us scrabbling around with a million other parents.
Here are some Fantastic Deals on everything from Gifts and Toys, Homeware, Clothes and everything else…..Some have already started and some don’t start until Friday.
Gifts Online 4 U – Have a lovely selection of Personalised Gifts suitable for your Mum, Dad, Nan, Niece in fact everybody. Use our unique code: LISA25 and receive 25% Off your order until 27th November.
TP Toy’s Have 45% Off a selected range of their outdoor toys and trampolines. A total thumbs up for a trampoline which has to be one of the best things we’ve bought so far for Isabelle.
Amazon – They have loads of daily deals so definitely keep your eyes peeled across all departments including kids toys. The offer ends on 27th November so don’t miss out!
The Entertainer – Are hosting up to 70% off loads of great stuff including Lego, Disney and Art’s and Crafts range. You don’t have to wait until Black Friday as they’re holding Early Bird Black Friday Offers on all sorts.
Currys – Are launching a Big Black Friday Event starting on the 24th. They even have loads of tips on the best time to buy and apparently listening to soothing music whilst you make your purchases can help to feel less stressed.
How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing!
Guest Post from Ryan Storey – How we cut more than £10k from our annual spending, without even noticing. I have been blogging for a while now at kakeibo about cost saving strategies and generally living a frugal lifestyle, but it wasn’t until a friend really challenged me on the benefits of these strategies, that I actually took the time to work out the overall impact to our family finances. I was absolutely blown away when I added it all up! There were some strategies that I was really pleased with when I found them, that honestly didn’t amount to much when I added them up over the year, but the cumulative saving came to £10k and I almost couldn’t believe it. I’ve outlined the strategies below so hopefully others can benefit from these too. I found it very useful putting them all together in one place, like a warm fuzzy metaphorical pat on the back, maybe you should try doing the same and give yourself some well-deserved credit too!
Before I get into the detail, it is probably helpful to have a bit of a background to give these some context. I have briefly outlined our situation below:
Married with two children – my daughter is 3 and my son is 4 months old
Essentially a single income family, my wife stays at home with the kids, but does do a bit of work around pre-school times as a PA from home
I work in London and commute about an hour every day
I am an accountant, with a passion for financial education, seeing the benefit it has brought me so far
I am constantly shopping around and thinking of ways to save money – I treat it like a game
We have had significant debt in the past ~ £35k, which we have now predominantly paid off – more on that later…
I think it is important to say that the savings that we make are reinvested in other things, like home improvements and maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. There is a common misconception that living frugally equates to living like a pauper. The key for us is maintaining a lifestyle that we can afford, being more disciplined about each purchase we make, but living the life that we want to live. It is a fine balance, because like dieting, if the life you build is not sustainable long-term, then you are more likely to slip back into bad habits.
The B word…
I feel like I need to start with a brief bit about budgeting and monitoring finances – many people have a budget, but what is often missed is regular monitoring of your spending against your budget, both within the month and following the month, to ensure that you are staying within your means. I see budgeting as past, present and future.
I review expenditure following the month compared with the budget and revise my budget going forward if things are changing, i.e. fuel prices going up and spending more, I make an adjustment for that. The budget is only as good as the day you set it, you need to keep tweaking it to make it reasonably accurate. I also use this to categorise expenditure and then start working through each item and seeing if I can either cut down, or get a better deal. That is basically how I found most of the strategies in the first place, i.e. being motivated to go and do some shopping around.
Ensuring that you stay within your means and budget, results in avoiding borrowing money to see you through the month. I update our budget vs. actual during the month at least once per week, and reign in spending if it is getting out of control. This could be a time consuming exercise, but last year I transitioned all of our budgeting and monitoring from a basic spreadsheet, to a cloud-based accounting package called Xero. It downloads your bank transactions and using AI categorises most for you to just review and accept, which has automated a huge amount of this process and given me back about 12 full days per year when I add up the time saving. The subscription does cost me money (approx. £60), but based on the savings below, assistance in keeping us in our budget and the time saving, this was an investment I was willing to make.
I run a rolling 12 month budget and deliberately budget monthly so that costs like holiday, birthdays, Xmas and other big outlays such as car service etc. are captured in the proper months. This helps me work out what I need to save each month to make sure that I am then not short in those months. This also helps me to forecast for other transactions that we are planning and see if it is feasible, like buying a sofa, or washing machine for example. It is better to work out that it is not possible in a spreadsheet, than signing up and realising that you have run out of money!
So, without further ado, here is a summary of our cost cutting strategies in no particular order and the total that they will save us over the coming year:
Caveat: Some of these are specific to our circumstances and won’t be possible for all, but the concept remains the same – if it is a big cost, think about how you could save money, even if that is just changing your routine or behaviour.
Mobile phones – this is my favourite, as previously there just weren’t really any options to reduce this cost drastically unless you could afford to buy your phone outright (or chose to not have a smartphone of course…). The other reason I have been raving about it to friends and family is because of the way that contracts have been sold in the past does not clearly demonstrate how much you are ending up paying for the phone, which I think is unfair to the consumer. Using Unshackled.com, I will have saved £150 on my phone this year (£300 over the life of the contract), but I will also use Unshackled.com for my wife when her contract is up in September too, which will save another £50 this year.
Razors and shaving – I was fed up with how much I was spending on razors and shaving stuff, so I shopped around and now have a King of Shaves subscription, saving me £44 per year. It also comes in the post, so you don’t even have to think about it!
National Insurance refund – it is a good idea to check your payslip, especially if you have changed employers in the tax year like I have. I realised that I had overpaid National Insurance by £261. National insurance is often overlooked, as it is not dealt with on a cumulative basis by your employer if you are under the PAYE scheme. I had to call and write to HRMC, but it is worth it if you can get some money back! This is also a reason to run a tight budget, as it will show up when you are comparing forecast to actual on a monthly basis.
Multi-car insurance – I shopped around for insurance when my wife’s car was up for renewal, exploring multi-car policies and taking into account the £50 I had to pay to get out of the pre-existing separate insurance I had on my car, I will have saved £622 this year.
Parking for work – I commute to work and have to drive to my local train station, parking at the train station costs £12 per week, but I get up a bit earlier and manage to park on a nearby side street (they would all be taken if I didn’t go earlier), saving £500 per year. Who says the early bird doesn’t catch the worm?!
Train travel – I realised that on renewing my season ticket that if I made a slight tweak to my destination, I would no longer need to pay for tube fares getting to my office. It means that I need to walk a short distance, but that is more than worth it considering I will now save £1,360 over the next year!
Lunches for work – I either make my lunch everyday, or take leftovers (also reducing food waste), but on average cost no more than £1 per day. Before I was spending £5 per day, therefore this is a saving of £900 per year.
Coffee on my commute – I have a coffee on the way to work each morning (I’m up early to get that parking space remember), but since getting a KeepCup for Xmas and taking a coffee from home instead, I will now save £400 this year as a result.
Nappies for my newborn son – we use ‘subscribe and save’ through Amazon saving £38 per year.
Childcare vouchers – £300 saved on pre-school fees before my daughter got the free hours, by getting the childcare vouchers through my employer and therefore saving the tax on my pay.
TV & broadband – saved £43 over the year, but managed to upgrade Sky to Sky Q and broadband to fibre on BT Infinity – I could have chosen to just get a discount on my Sky HD package instead, which I negotiated down to 50% off, for a saving of £300 per year, but decided to reinvest it instead. Broadband is one of life’s necessities after all…
Home insurance – shopped around for my home insurance and will save £90 this year by going through John Lewis Insurance.
Groceries – we shop at Aldi where possible, we do still have to get some things elsewhere, but we save approx. £1,000 over the year as a result. Plus, you get a workout trying to pack your own bags as the checkout assistant fires things through at break-neck speed!
Meal wheel – for my wife’s baby shower present, instead of getting baby ‘stuff’ her best friend set up a ‘meal wheel’, which is basically your friends making you dinners and bringing them over in the first few weeks after the baby is born. It saves both time and money, which are equally important at that key time, but amounted to about £100 saved and immeasurable amounts in sanity.
Hand me down clothes – with our first child being a girl, we would have needed to buy lots of clothes for our son, but friends and family have donated ‘hand me down’ clothes, which has already saved us at least £100, but will save us a lot more over the year as well.
Breastfeeding – my wife breastfeeds our son, which means we don’t buy formula, which will save us about £120 this year.
Leased car termination fee – I used to have a leased car through my employer. When I left last year I was required to pay a termination fee. It seemed high, so I challenged it, going all the way back to the terms and conditions after lots of arguing and doing my own calculation. They finally accepted a £500 reduction due to their “errors” in the calculation. It is important to know what you are paying for and sticking to your guns if it doesn’t seem right!
Nest thermostat and insulation – I had a Nest Thermostat installed last year, which learns your routines and how your house heats up. We used to have a basic timer on the boiler, which meant the heating was always on for 8 hours per day. Since having it installed there have been many days where it has only been on for 3 or 4 hours instead, even over the winter, giving us a comfortable environment. I will really need to run this for a whole year to determine cost savings, but I think this could help a lot. We also live in an older house, which had no insulation in large sections of the loft. I did some research and insulated it myself on a weekend. It cost me £300 for the insulation, but on average savings achieved by insulating your property can be £600+. Therefore, I estimate £200 saving (after taking into account what I spent) to be prudent over the year.
Re-mortgage – Last year we were planning on re-mortgaging our existing property, to reduce our monthly payments, take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates and pay down credit card debt. We had the house valued as part of the process and actually ended up selling, moving to a bigger house paying off all our debt and getting a lower interest rate. It is important to say here that I used a financial advisor to help me with this process, which I would strongly recommend for any significant financial decisions like that. The result is that overall we are now £300 better off each month, therefore a saving of £3,600 over a year and have more space and a better quality of life. Much less of our hard earned cash goes into making interest payments.
Drum roll for the net total saving over the next year…..£10,318!
Hopefully you too can utilise some of these and make savings yourself. Are there any great cost saving strategies that I have missed? Let us know and get involved with the conversation on social media:
Whether you spent way too much at Christmas or your New Year’s resolution is to be more sensible with your finances, making some extra money wherever possible will be extremely beneficial.
Not everyone is lucky enough to bring in a monthly salary that allows them to live a care-free life, so saving and finding ways to profit by other means is an ideal way to stay financially afloat in 2017.
You may be surprised to find that there are many ways of making some extra cash here and there — some of which are already right under your nose. From renting rooms and parking spaces to selling jewellery for cash, let’s take a look at five ways for you to earn some extra money this year.
Sell Your Junk via Online Marketplaces
If you’re someone who tends to be a little bit rubbish at throwing things away — which, let’s face it, most of us are — you could be making a decent profit from old things you have no use for. Online marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree are an absolute goldmine to find some cheap deals, and therefore as a seller, items you have in good enough condition to sell will be worth something to someone.
While you may not make a fortune from each item individually, you’ll soon accumulate a tidy sum if you manage to sell enough of your old stuff. Anything that you own and no longer have a use for is worth putting up for sale online. You never know who’s out there looking for some cheap furniture for their new flat, or for some reason have taken a shine to the cuckoo clock that you received from a barmy relative.
Recycle Old Mobile Phones
A new model of iPhone and various Androids are released every year, and many people feel the need to have the new model as soon as it comes out, leaving behind a large number of relatively new phones that become unused. If you are one of these people and you’ve struggled to sell your old phone or haven’t bothered to sell it at all, you should think about recycling it.
There are a bunch of sites that offer cash for old mobiles, and if you have a fairly recent model to trade in, you could come away with £200-£300. That type of money would go a long way to paying off monthly bills or be a nice little addition to your savings.
Sell Old Jewellery
Jewellery is one of those belongings that people seem to hoard, often without even realising how big their stash has become. Selling jewellery can be a tricky task, as without a proper appraisal, you’ll be unsure whether you’re getting a good deal or not. This could well be the reason why your pile of treasures has continued to grow.
If you’re selling jewellery and are looking for a way to get them appraised before money changes hands, seeking out a cash for gold company is a good way to have a precious metals expert take a look at what you’ve got and give you a quote. It’s worth doing a bit of homework, because the higher-quality companies have a price match scheme and will match any company that offers you more.
Postal gold services are a really great way of selling jewellery for cash, especially if you don’t have much time on your hands and want a quick and easy process. They’ll send you an insured, first-class envelope, so all you have to do is put your items in and send it off. You’ll usually get a quote within 24 hours. Simple!
Rent Out Your Parking Space
A lot of houses and flats these days will come with an assigned parking space, but many of these spaces remain unused by people who don’t drive or do not own a car. If this is the case and you live in a city where parking is expensive or scarce, renting out your parking space could prove to be a straightforward and efficient way of making money.
If you live in a big city like London, people will be coming far and wide for all different reasons. One prime example is football fans heading to the city to watch a game. They will have already spent a hefty amount on tickets, fuel and potentially overnight accommodation, so a cheap parking space in the city would be an ideal way to save money.
Having a clear-out and putting together a basic spare bedroom won’t cost you much at all, and the potential it will then have to bring in a hefty sum while charging rent is too good to pass up.
Another option is Airbnb, a site that allows you to rent out your living space to people who are planning a visit to your town or city. This can be especially profitable if you happen to live in an area that’s more popular with tourists — and you can even rent out your garden or nearby land for campers to pitch their tents.
Although money isn’t the be all and end all of life, if you ask a room full of people who would like to be earning more money, you would get a room full of raised hands. Finding ways to make some extra cash, whether it’s through selling jewellery and old belongings or renting out a living space, will prove to be extremely useful for relieving some of the stress of bills or other future endeavours.
And Dads of course, but it doesn’t have the same ring to it!
Christmas feels like a long time ago, and for many of us we’re holding out for January payday.
For some, Money Saving is a lifestyle rather than a fad, but many of us kickstart our Money Saving in January and go from there.
We’ve started the #365daypennychallenge which is saving a small amount each day which suprisingly adds up to a tidy sum by the end of the 365 days (£667.95 to be exact).
We’ve also become very savvy when it comes to food shopping and shop around to get the best deals. We haven’t gone as far as setting up meal plans, but we base our meals around special offers and deals so that we get the most for our money.
I plan to check out our utilities this month to see if we can save money by changing provider.
I’ve already been through our direct debits to make sure that we don’t have any payments for things that we no longer use any more.
Whatever you’re looking to buy or maybe cutting costs on, there will be ways of getting it cheaper if you’re prepared to look.
For some this is just too much which is where sites like Gratisfaction come into play . They take all the leg work for you by listing a variety of deals on websites as well as loads of Free Stuff. They have oodles of categories from including Gadgets, Eating Out and Baby Stuff.
I thought I would have a poke around the site and see what they have on offer for us as a family of four with a dog.
A Free Online Cooking Course – When you get to this website there are loads of courses to choose from so I have chosen Social Media Marketing which should cost £395. Total madness but I’ve grabbed it and will let you know how I get on.
We no longer have babies at home, but the Baby Section is full of loads of stuff including Weaning Pouches and Drynight’s Disposable pants.
Some of these offers are amazing. I’m especially loving the cosmetic/beauty type offers as I love a bit of pampering so once these arrive I will add them to my treat basket which I dip into when I get the chance.
Pop over to the site regularly as some of the offers are only available for a set number of people before the close.
We bought one of those tins that you have to open with a tin opener so that nobody would be dipping into it for carpark change or money for the kids lunches.
Isabelle really enjoyed putting the coins in, and we did really great with it.
However, I might do things a bit differently this year as with many people we don’t tend to keep that much cash on us anymore and towards the end of the challenge the amount was far greater so not everybody has that amount to put away.
So I’ve created a downloadable PDF that you can print off and keep next to your saving jar and tick off as and when you do it.
What I thought I might do is around pay day I will pay the higher amounts and then other times I can pay a smaller amount. As long as you tick off the amount that you put in you will still end up with the saved £667.95.
If you have any other great ways of saving money or tips then do pop them in the comments below.